Following are excerpts of
an interview with BMS President
W. A. Wijewardena
Q: You are completing three years as BMS President. Can you share your experiences with us?
A: I joined BMS at a time when it had already reached its maturity under its foresighted and student friendly leadership. It was a novel experience for me to associate myself with such a band of professionals who had been nurtured and guided by the best of the British university system represented by two modern universities, namely, the University of Leicester and Northumbria University.
At BMS, I witnessed how they had integrated themselves seamlessly into the British education system which under no circumstance would compromise with standards, quality and integrity when delivering educational services. Strangely, these three pillars of education coincided with my ideals as well and therefore I had no difficulty in working with them. After joining BMS, we managed to expand its horizons significantly by venturing into new areas of learning needed by Sri Lanka.
We introduced a Higher National Diploma in Biomedical Science for the first time in Sri Lanka with the support from the Edexcel of the UK and Northumbria University UK. I was deeply taken by the dedication and commitment shown by BMS staff at every stage of planning, implementing and progress-monitoring of the new projects we had undertaken. In short, I am happy to be a partner of this BMS team.
Q: Future plans for BMS in the next three years?
A: In the last three years, there have been substantial changes in Sri Lanka’s approach to higher education. For the first time, the government has accepted as a policy, the need for getting the private initiatives involved in delivering quality higher educational services to Sri Lankans on the one hand and make Sri Lanka a knowledge hub of disseminating talent and skills to the rest of the world, on the other. BMS had been doing this well before the Government had changed its policy. Hence, in the next three years, BMS will team up with the authorities to realise this goal in every way possible.
On our part, we will look at the areas of talents and skills which Sri Lanka needs crucially at its present stage of economic development and get the best of the British universities to deliver the same to Sri Lankan students in general and helping the policy initiative of building a knowledge hub in the country.
Two areas of skills development which Sri Lanka badly needs at this stage are biomedical science and hospitality management. The first is a completion of our mission to train the needed biomedical scientists in the country. The second is to provide the trained skills to man the country’s growing tourism industry. BMS will associate itself with Northumbria University in offering biomedical science courses and with the University of Derby to offer degrees in hospitality management.
In addition, BMS is planning to offer degree courses in banking and finance as well. All these we do with the support of modern British universities so that we could establish the high British standards in Sri Lanka’s higher education. Our motto is quality first and money later.
Q: Why do you think that students should enrol themselves at BMS and what is special about it?
A: As I told you earlier, our motto is quality first and money later. We are not an institution particularly concerned about money and most of our courses are just break–even courses. Our aim is to develop a well talented human being who would be of service to himself first and then to his prospective employers.
We follow a novel approach of disseminating education to attain that goal. Our tagline is ‘Make learning happen,’ meaning that we provide quality teaching and create an environment for students to explore the vast area of knowledge by themselves and learn. What one learns is permanently stored in his system unlike what one has been taught which he quickly forgets.
In our system of learning environment, there are no weak students but students who are not adequately motivated to reach their potential. So, when students join us, they are continuously coached to acquire knowledge, fill deficiencies in language, become effective team workers and above all, shed the fear of talking in public what they believe to be true.
We had many students who didn’t have an adequate knowledge of English to follow their courses in that medium. But, after they had been supported by BMS to improve their language skills, they became marvellous students.
This is also true with our coaching on research project preparation which is an integral part of our education. Some students who had even given up their courses because of the fear of research were tactfully brought back to the system again and after coaching, they have produced research projects well appreciated by the relevant British university.
We develop students’ leadership skills by getting them involved in numerous college events. So, at the end, when they receive their diplomas and degrees, they are a happy lot. So are we. Hence, it is a ‘win-win’ situation for both the students and BMS.